ARTICLE T. COLE RACHEL
PHOTOGRAPHY PHILIPPE VOGELENZANG
STYLIST DELPHINE DANHIER
WITH THE RELEASE OF HER THIRD ALBUM CEMENTING HER STATUS AS A BONA FIDE POP STAR, BRITISH DARLING ELLIE GOULDING IS SHINING AMONG THE "LIGHTS" IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE. CHECK OUT HER INTERVIEW AND VIDEO HERE, BOTH EXCLUSIVE TO V
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past year (and never watch television or go into any sort of clothing store), chances are you’re more than familiar with “Lights,” the breakthrough single from British sensation Ellie Goulding. Having sold more than three million copies in the U.S. alone, the track has catapulted Goulding from the rank of quirky electro-pop princess to that of international superstar, as evidenced by gigs at the White House, a Brit award, a reported romance with highfalutin DJ Skrillex, and a personal invitation to perform at Kate and William’s royal nuptials. In her spare time, Goulding recorded Halcyon, a gorgeous selection of euphoric pop songs and plaintive ballads guaranteed to keep her in the spotlight for a long time to come.
After your last record blew up and your song, “Lights,” was suddenly everywhere, did you take a lot of time off before getting to work on the sophomore album?
ELLIE GOULDING I didn’t really take time off. I recorded in between visiting America and doing various little things. I went out to the countryside near Herefordshire, where I grew up, and did a lot of writing there. I spent a lot of time traveling with my boyfriend as well. I also did some writing in Ireland. I went out there for a couple of weeks with just my guitar to be by the ocean. A lot of the lyrics were inspired by poetry and stuff I read while I was there.
The prospect of getting to play this whole new batch of songs must be exciting.
EG I mean, it’s definitely nerve-racking, but I reckon once I’ve done a few shows it will get easier. My voice is about the way I shape my body, the way I project, and the way I move my mouth. So I have to get in touch with my muscle memory in regards to my voice…and then eventually I can start really performing.
Halcyon has big pop songs and also lots of really intimate ballads. Your work kind of transcends what most people think of as being traditional pop music. Do you mind being thought of as a pop star?
EG I dunno. I suppose I like the idea. I could also just play my songs on the guitar and perform alone. I like that I can just do a lot of different things and appeal to a lot of different people. I’d like to be thought of as a good songwriter. I’d like that.
I’d say the majority of your new songs—even the upbeat ones—have some little kernel of darkness at their core.
EG Oh yeah. I kind of knew that was the way this record would turn out. I sensed early on that it was probably not gonna be too happy. That’s always been my writing style anyway.
Do you feel like this is what you were born to do?
EG Not really. There were some people who told me I could sing, but plenty of others who thought my voice was too weird and unusual. It’s funny, I was just watching a video of an interview with one of my old music teachers who was telling everyone “Oh, I always knew Ellie would be a successful singer!” and I kept thinking that she must be lying because I never gave anyone an indication that I wanted to be a singer. I was naughty and always messing about in class.
With this new record I can only imagine that life will get crazier for you. How are you dealing with it?
EG It’s exhausting at times, I never knew you could actually go to so many different places over the course of one day. I just want people to be aware of my music. I could release something and not do any promotion, but I feel like doing all this stuff is just another part of the job. I don’t mind it.
You are one of the few people in the world who knows what it’s like to play on a huge festival stage, at the White House, and at the royal wedding.
EG I still can’t believe that any of that stuff happened. To record a cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” and then be asked to play the royal wedding…it’s just surreal. Wonderful and surreal.
Elton John is not one to hold back his opinions, so I’m sure you would have heard about it if he were unhappy.
EG Exactly. If he doesn’t mind telling off Madonna, I certainly wouldn’t be spared!
“Lights” was such a big hit here in the States. What has your experience been like spending time over here?
EG I never came to America as a child—in fact, I never really went anywhere as a child—so my idea of America was solely based on Hollywood and my imagined version of what New York City might be like from watching television. This year I had the experience of taking a train with my boyfriend through the U.S. and Canada—we’d stop in all these little places and see these beautiful lakes and waterfalls. I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful it is. I grew up around the remains of old houses and factory buildings, so being out in the country next to rivers and such was just so amazing to me.
Sudden fame can be such a weird thing to wrap your head around. Do you feel changed by the experience?
EG The only thing that has changed is that I’m way more efficient. I’ve learned how to say no when I need to, whereas before I would be afraid to disappoint people. Anyone who knows me will tell you, I am notoriously laid-back.
Halcyon is currently out on Cherry Tree/Interscope
Makeup Brigitte Reiss-Andersen (Jed Root Inc.) Hair Harry Josh (HarryJosh.com) Manicure Marisa Carmichael Photo assistant Emilio Garcia Hernandez Location Sandbox Studio NY